Other Minds, Inc., in association with the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and with the In Performance Series at the Cowell Theater in Fort Mason Center, presented Other Minds Festival IV at the Cowell Theater, at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, November 10-12, 1997.
The first concert of the 4th Other Minds featured several electronic and mixed media works by composers Laetitia Sonami, Donald Swearingen, Pamela Z, and video artists Visual Brains.
Laetitia Sonami: She Came Back, Again (1997)
With She Came Back, Again Sonami writes that she "rediscovers the pleasure of the fluidity of sound offered by FM synthesis. The lady's glove controls parameters of the synthesis and flirts with the destabilization of these sounds, constructing and deconstructing layers, forming recollections of abstract habitual patterns...The inspiration for the text came from the earlier version of the music which had no narrative. It gives some obscure and confusing description of a mechanical being, probably the one performing, the same way a narrator's voice in some animal or war documentary describes the scene being shown, trying to create meaning when meaning is not asked for." The text is by Melody Sumner Carnahan, excerpted from "One More Thing, and read by Sonami. Aside from the narrator's voice, there is no prerecorded music.
Donald Swearingen: When in Japan
It all started with Randall Packer's piano. When in Japan has been a long way since then, and, while it continues to unravel, it never seems to become actually unraveled.
Donald Swearingen: 1923
1923 reaches for impossible memories in transformed and reconstrued (not reconstructed) themes of television past. It took a ton of electricity strung high across the river to bring it all to life, and even now the images bounce about beneath the waves of my furrowed brow. And still the water flows through long greedy reeds.
Donald Swearingen: Cooking Demonstration
The lost emotions of food you ate remain in the utensils that ripped it up and prepared the meal. I have resurrected the echoes of these sentiments and present them to you under a magnifying glass. All sounds verbatim from my own kitchen.
Pamela Z: Metrodaemonium and More (1995-1997)
Metrodaemonium sprung from a live performance piece I did called “Re-Sounding, a portrait of Downtown San Francisco” which premiered outdoors at the Center For the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens as part of a site specific sound series commissioned by Secession Gallery in 1995. I created the samples by carrying a portable DAT recorder around on public transportation and in the streets of the city. Metrodaemonium is still evolving both as a live work and an audio piece, and now includes movements such as "The MUNI Section" and "Carpark" as well as one called "NEMIZ" (which currently exists only in a recorded form). In performance, the samples are triggered with the BodySynth™ (a controller that uses electrode sensors worn against the skin to generate MIDI information).
Pamela Z: Bone Music (1993)
Bone Music was created during the time period when I was working on the score of a piece called Circle of Bone by The Qube Chix. My character in Circle of Bone was a sort of anthropologist, and the vocalizations in this piece were born from my explorations of that character. All the sounds in this piece are created live using various shades of processing on the voice, and the shifting rhythms of found percussion in three separate delay loops.
Mona-Lisa (1996), (United States Premiere)
Laetitia Sonami, Donald Swearingen, Pamela Z & Visual Brains
Mona-Lisa was commissioned by the American Embassy in Tokyo for the 13th annual Interlink Festival, and was performed in Tokyo, Kobe, and Sapporo during October and November of 1996. Laetitia Sonami, Donald Swearingen and Pamela Z collaborated with Japanese video artists Visual Brains to produce a full-length performance work employing live music and video. With a text by writer Melody Sumner-Carnahan as its inspiration, the piece evolved over several months as each group developed ideas on both sides of the Pacific and shared them through exchanges of email, audio CDs, videos, and live video-conferencing. Finally, the piece was put into its finished form when the three musicians traveled to Japan and rehearsed for several days with Visual Brains in preparation for the first performances in Tokyo.
Mona-Lisa is set in three large sections, each introduced by a spoken narrative from Sumner-Carnahan's text. In each section, the narrative is followed by a musical section which evolves with increasing levels of complexity, finally disintegrating into its constituent elements, a sort of sonic dust.
The performers each contribute specific architectural and structural elements to the work. Laetitia Sonami's computer-generated rhythms form the rhythmic backdrop against which the disintegration is measured. Pamela Z's vocalizations represent a lyrical element whose repeated appearances serve to reconnect us to the elemental Mona. Donald Swearingen's percussive and metallic samples provide layers of punctuation and accentuation to the thematic elements. Visual Brains' video displays provide the visual architecture for the cityscape in which we imagine the events are unfolding.
In a sense, the text itself can be thought of as another performer. The text selections introduce and set the mood for each of the three sections, and provide a narrative basis for the work which serves to link and unify all of the other elements. In the first text, we are introduced to a rather bleak image of the modern city, with a dazed and delirious "visionary" muttering incomprehensibly about "her": "she is a drug addict, she is diseased, she stinks...". We want him to "wake up", but we are unable to pierce the miasma of his delusions. In the second text, we enter a disturbing dream of the "mother" as a fallen angel, passively allowing herself to be used, and then disintegrating amidst the nonchalance of the postmodern generation. In the final text, we see her in her most elemental form, before she has been tarnished by the filth of the modern city: "she was vivid and overflowing", "she was adolescence", "she was sacred music".
Whereas the narrative creates a story line that works backward from Mona's modern degradation to her primeval ascendance, we cannot sense such a clear line in the other musical elements. What we can perceive is that we are being carried along by a rhythm that we can be assured will always return. It is like the wind that in time turns the sharp edge of the stone to sand. When it is quiet, there is nothing left of the forms which once inhabited the space so fully.
[Notes from the original printed program,]
For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: radiOM.org